May 5th, 2010
10:30 AM ET

Immigration takes center court at Suns-Spurs playoffs

The Phoenix Suns will once again don their "Los Suns" jersey -- this time in response to Arizona's new immigration law.

It’s not often point guards and power forwards partake in politics.

Responding to a recently passed immigration policy in Arizona, the Phoenix Suns will take the court Wednesday in jerseys bearing their name in Spanish.

Robert Sarver, owner of “Los Suns,” said his team will wear the jerseys during Game Two of its playoff matchup with the San Antonio Spurs, which falls on the Mexican holiday, Cinco de Mayo.

“We are proud that 400 players from 36 countries compete in the NBA, and the league and the Suns have always considered that to be a great strength of the NBA,” he said in a statement.

The move was designed, in part, to honor Phoenix’s Latino community, Sarver said.

The Suns also have a Latin-born player, guard Leandro Barbosa of Brazil. He is one of the NBA’s 18 players from Latin America. Hispanics compose about 15 percent of the NBA’s market, according to the league.

The new immigration law, which goes into effect in August, allows police in Arizona to demand proof of residency. Critics say the law encourages racial profiling. Proponents say it’s a necessary response to stem the tide of illegal immigrants flowing into the state.

The Suns’ protest was roundly supported by NBA players and officials, according to an report.

NBA Commissioner David Stern called the move “appropriate.” The NBA Players Association also praised the protest as NBAPA Executive Director Billy Hunter called the immigration law “offensive and incompatible with the basic notions of fairness and equal protection.”

Added star point guard Steve Nash: “Obviously the passing of the recent bill and what that means to our state, to civil liberties, and the quality and precedent it’s setting, and message it sends to our youngsters in the community, we have a problem with that. It's great that our owner took the initiative and our players are behind him.”

In an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Dan Patrick, the always outspoken Charles Barkley said the immigration law offended him, both as an African-American and as a resident of Arizona. He suggested the policy was merely a political ploy.

“Most of those immigrants here are busting their hump, doing a great job, and to go after them every couple of years because you want to raise hell doing something to get re-elected, that’s disrespectful and disgusting,” he said.

Despite that the Spurs will do battle with the Suns at 8 p.m. ET, at least one San Antonio player was able to find solidarity with his rivals.

Argentina-born guard Manu Ginobili said he hopes Arizona can find another way to deal with its immigration woes.

“I hope they change [the law] back to what it was and give the workers the possibility to be legal and pay taxes as everyone else,” he told

Wednesday won’t be the first time the NBA has honored the Latino community. In March, the league held Noche Latina (Latin Night), with Los Lakers, the Knicks of Nueva York, Miami’s El Heat and Dallas’ Los Mavs among nine teams wearing Spanish-language jerseys.

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Filed under: Immigration • Sports
soundoff (1,270 Responses)
  1. US Citizen

    MrsCfromLA please shut up, you think everything is about racism.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  2. michael

    There seems to be a pattern with Arizona. First the refusal to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a holiday and now an anti-Hispanic immigration law.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  3. Diego

    I was born in a tiny village outside of Tijuana. I came to the US through a hole in a barbed wire fence when I was 14. I have lived here for 27 years, and I have made over half a million dollars and never paid one cent to the imperialist US government in taxes. I have no interest in becoming a US citizen because I love my country: Mexico. All of the whites and Americans in Arizona are so stupid. They wake up every morning and fail at everything they try to do. When will they learn that we are here and we control the future? Viva La Migra!

    May 5, 2010 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  4. Super MC

    I love the ene-be-a! Oh wait, NBA in Spanish is still spelled NBA! We don't spell out the sounds En-Bee-Eh for English speakers. Isn't this indirectly offensive? I know, as a Hispanic, I can sound the letters out on my own, but thanks for the help.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  5. Steve

    Bring it US citizen. It'd be over in 5 mins. Lets turn the tables. All cops in Pasadena Ca are allowed to pull over any lebanese people just for being lebanese. Regardless if they are citizens or not. Just for the simple fact that your lebanese. I bet your ass would be crying then...

    May 5, 2010 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  6. Tee

    @ Chris …You must be really ignorant to world and American history. In most countries (Including the US) the people who are recognized the most (Athletes, Actresses, Actors) usually were the ones who stood up for injustice. Why? Because they have the platform to do so this allows them to bring awareness to others. (In the voice of John McCain) Injustice is Injustice Is Injustice and this my friends is Injustice.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  7. plopsdad


    Tell me how w3anting this country to enforce its immigration laws racist?

    May 5, 2010 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  8. celticborn

    Oh for Pete's sake....stick to basketball. Stay out of politics. If the individual players want to support this cause, then they can do it on their own private time. I don't believe that every player on that team is against the immigration law...but they are going to be forced to show support against it by HAVING to wear the uniform. Is that right?

    May 5, 2010 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  9. Monica

    GO NBA!!! What a powerful way to express your opinion. This sends a positive message to people like myself, the non-sport folks. And to all those complaining about sports vs politics, you know that politics is everywhere: work, school, fundraisers, etc.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  10. pb13f

    I am a US Citizen by naturalization, born in India, came here legally, recieved a professional degree in a top US university, now a successful professional. I work 5 days a week, pay my taxes and US to me is my new homeland. I am totally against illegal immigrants, not b'cos they are from other country, just b'cos they are "Illegal" immigrants. I don't know why people are afraid to show their ID or real status when asked to do so if they are not wrong. And if they are wrong, they deserve to be worried. I have no problem in showing my ID ifI am asked to do so. I've seen cops pulling white/black/brown/asian people all the time. Even if they are biased, why are you worried if you are legal resident in this country? Its for everybody's safety. Not every illegal immigrant is criminal by law. I've heard illegal immigrants getting US citizenship all the time if their records are good. If they haven't done anything wrong and they pay their taxes etc etc, there are laws to make them legal in this country but if they are wrong plus illegal, the law of this country for illegal immigrants should apply to every one of them....period.
    This NBA act against new law is stupid, they should concentrate on educating people that its not the law itself which is bad, its the rising population of illegal immigrants which is bad. They need to find a right and legal way to come to US.
    People need to be aware that its their own good sake. I am from state of Washington and wouldn't mind at all if the law is implemented here too. People, please get aware, not mis-guided bt his law.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
  11. Ray E. (Georgia)

    Ah well,
    I would say you "Suns" just fouled out!

    May 5, 2010 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
  12. Craig

    I agree with Czeckers this bill is after the people who are't in OUR country legally. I would think that the management of the Suns would be smart enough to know this.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
  13. Wdrad

    Just another reason to not support the NBA, or basketball.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
  14. mike smith

    My office is on the 9th floor...I just decided I should be on the 20th...Guess what I did, I took the elevated up to the 20th floor sat in someone's Cubicle and started to work, used the guys fax machine, drank his coffee and spent his petty cash to pay my medical bills...the police showed up and took me to jail...I must have been somewhere illegal

    May 5, 2010 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  15. CC

    I am glad to know the NBA's stance on this issue. I will never watch the NBA again, not that watched it much in the first place. Mostly a bunch of thugs and drug users. Hey maybe that's why the players want illegal traffic across the boarder so they can still get their drugs.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
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